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Brooklyn heralds long-awaited reopening of museums

August 14, 2020 Marina Villeneuve Associated Press and Raanan Geberer Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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New York City museums and aquariums, as well as bowling alleys across the state, are getting the green light to open again, while the state will soon release reopening guidance for indoor gyms.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters in a Friday conference call that low-risk, indoor cultural activities — including museums — can open in New York City starting Aug. 24.

Brooklyn has several museums, most notably the Brooklyn Museum itself but also the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, the New York Transit Museum, the Brooklyn Historical Society and others.

The Brooklyn Museum, like most museums nationwide, suffered financially because of the COVID-19 pandemic; in late June, it laid off 29 employees, online reports said at the time.

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Brooklyn also has the New York Aquarium, run by the Wildlife Conservation Society. While the WCS zoos, such as the Prospect Park, Bronx and Central Park zoos, reopened last month, the reopening of the Aquarium, on the Coney Island boardwalk, was postponed. Many of its exhibits are indoors, although others, such as the popular sea lion performances, are outdoors.

The governor said the reopened cultural institutions will face restrictions: 25 percent occupancy, timed ticketing, pre-set staggered entry and controlled traffic flow.

In addition, bowling alleys can reopen statewide starting Monday, as long as they stick to a 50 percent occupancy limit and establish disinfection protocols for shared and rented equipment. The governor said bowling alley staff must close every other lane and bring food and alcohol to customers.

U.S. Navy divers preformed with stingrays, thrilling the crowd, at the New York Aquarium in Coney Island in 2017. Photo: Scott Enman/Brooklyn Eagle

“So you’re at a lane, you’re bowling, you can order food, alcohol, they come to you,” Cuomo said. The governor didn’t say anything about the cafes found in most large museums.

The governor also said this administration will release long-awaited reopening guidance Monday for indoor gyms.

But Cuomo has not set a date for gyms to reopen.

The state allows certain low-risk, outdoors recreation including tennis, canoeing, golf, badminton, shuffleboard, zip lining, batting cages, shooting ranges and swim classes. Gyms and fitness centers can also offer outdoor activities.

But owners of bowling alleys and gyms, fitness studios and movie theaters had held a press conference Thursday calling on New York to release health and safety guidance for their industries.

“Since the start of Phase 4, these businesses have been totally left behind, and I am hearing from countless constituents who are at a loss as the state has gone radio silent, refusing to answer questions or provide even a timeline for when they can expect to receive guidelines that would allow them to plan for a safe reopening,” state Sen. Sue Serino, a Republican, said in a statement Thursday.

As far as indoor dining at restaurants in New York City is concerned, there is still no room at the inn, even though indoor dining is allowed in every other part of the state. Cuomo has said that the state is expecting a possible increase in COVID cases after Labor Day, and he needs to see how that develops before making a decision.

His policy has gotten complaints from both right and left. U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has asked “why indoor schooling is OK, but indoor dining is not.”

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